Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I'd like to point out to your reader Sharon Anderson [Dr. Gridlock, Oct. 24], who thinks that listening to an audiobook is too distracting to be safe, that this may be her problem but please don't assume that other drivers are so inept as to be unable to listen and drive at the same time.

It disturbs me when I see comments from your readers who try to paint all drivers as having the same level of attention and ability. There is a wide range of both qualities.

Keith Hill


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I tried them in Germany, but they didn't work, as traffic there required my total concentration.

I tried listening to an audiobook while on Route 3 in the Northern Neck (very rural, not much traffic) and got a ticket for doing 10 miles over the speed limit because I wasn't paying attention. Imagine if I'd been listening to it on the Beltway, where total attention is required! Never again will I listen to an audiobook. I don't believe a person can concentrate on both the book and the road.

Kathie Beane


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

If one follows this line of reasoning, then we shouldn't listen to the radio as that will be distracting also.

Edward Lloyd Hillman


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I agree with Sharon Anderson that listening to audiotapes is a distraction and that driving demands our full attention.

Ernie Levy


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

About two years ago, I read in your column that some readers use audiobooks to help ease the stress of their daily commute. I started borrowing audiobooks from my local library, and it was one of the best things I have ever done.

Besides introducing me to some new authors I would not normally read, listening to books has definitely decreased my stress.

I am more patient at red lights and definitely more tolerant of other drivers, such as those who are cutting someone off, not using turn indicators or tailgating. I now look forward to my commute. It is time for myself and my books.

Maria Siwek

Manassas Park

'HOV-1' for Good Reason

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I legally and economically (49-plus mpg on regular gas and a one-time $2,000 federal tax deduction for clean fuel vehicles) commute "HOV-1" in my Toyota Prius.

Please help pass the word that clean fuel vehicles (CF tags in Virginia) can legally drive in the HOV lanes with only one passenger in the vehicle.

The rude, hostile and ignorant (that means you, "BULLDOG") can refer to the Virginia Department of Transportation Web site for enlightenment. Thanks.

Lynn Simon


The Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and Honda Civic hybrid vehicles qualify for an alternative fuels license plate and are eligible to use Virginia HOV lanes with one person in the vehicle. They also get great gas mileage and reduce pollution. Glad to spread the word.

The British Way Reader Robert Boise of Temple Hills asked my opinion of British traffic lights, which, he said, go from red to yellow to green and then from green directly to red [Dr. Gridlock, Oct. 24]. I said I thought it was an invitation for rear-end collisions. One response:

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I think your correspondent is a little confused. Traffic lights in England change from green to amber and then red in the normal fashion. But a few seconds before changing back to green, and while the red light is still on, the amber light comes on again to let motorists know that the light will change to green shortly.

Driving there would indeed be interesting if traffic lights changed from green to red, with no warning!

Jill de Roos


Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Sunday in the Metro section and Thursday in Fairfax Extra. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail, at, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, town, county and day and evening phone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.